JOSHUA TREE, CA – Returning for its sixth year following last year’s sold-out performance, the Hi-Desert Cultural Center’s popular Desert Stories spoken word event is set for Saturday February 2, 2013 at 7 p.m. – and tickets are selling quickly.
Word” is a popular form of literary art or artistic performance in
which lyrics, poetry, or stories are spoken and may include singing and
multi-media visual effects. Artist and event host, Cheryl Montelle,
invites you to come hear more “true-life” experiences and a few “tall
tales” from some of the Desert’s best storytellers and some special
guests. This year’s event will feature Marie Chambers, Tania Hammidi,
William Hillyard, Bernard Leibov, Suzzann Macleod, Alan Rasmussen, Robbi
Rob, Candacy Taylor, Tracy Tynan, and Steve Stajich.
is a spectacular signature event that garners the rave reviews of both
critics and audiences each year,” stated Jarrod Radnich, Hi-Desert
Cultural Center President. “Its popularity is a testament to the skill
and artistry of the many individuals who continue to make Desert Stories the incredible experience that audiences can’t get enough of.”
Desert Stories VI
will begin with a pre-show cocktail party at 6:30 p.m. with
performances beginning around 7:00 p.m. Saturday February 2, 2013 at the
Hi-Desert Cultural Center’s state-of-the-art Blak Box Theater. Ticket
prices are $20 for general seating, $25 for premium seating, and $35 for
elite seating. A no-host cash bar will be available. For more
information or to purchase tickets, call the box office at 760.366.3777
or purchase tickets online at Hi-Desert Cultural Center.
Be inspired by nature’s imagery in this writing-intensive field seminar at Joshua Tree National Park. Award-winning poets Jim Natal and Jeanette Clough will guide participants in the act of creative discovery surrounded by one of the world’s most unique landscapes in this one-day field class. In the morning, participants will take a brief hike with park naturalist, Caryn Davidson, and be immersed in the mystique of this special place. Then the instructors will lead the class in writing exercises that will focus on facilitating connections and inspiring desert metaphor. In the afternoon, participants will write poetry based on their morning's experiences. The poems will be reviewed, revised and polished by the group. Poets of all levels are welcome. Just bring paper, pens, lunch – and your desire to write.
The Sunrunner is an institution in the high desert, a great source for news and updates on local events and entertainment, and an advocate for desert preservation. Every year the Sunrunner publishes a Desert Writers Issue, showcasing selected work by writers with a significant attachment to the high desert. I'm excited to have a piece included in this issue again this year.
Here is the link to the Sunrunner magazine on-line, which allows you to peruse the entire issue. My essay, "Call of the World," which connects the Greek myth of Narcissus and Echo with our current need to listen to the natural world, appears on pg 28.
I received a lovely response to my recent post about the stone wall and Robinson Jeffers that included a correction on the location of the poet's stonework. Jeffers lived and built his house in Carmel-by-the-Sea, not the Carmel Valley. And, it is possible to visit the site. For more information and some wonderful photos, check out the Robinson Jeffers Tor House Foundation.
Here is a photo of the cabin from the East-NE vantage point that I mentioned in the earlier post for the folks who have expressed curiosity about where we live.
I covered the west wall of our cabin with stone. Last Friday a friend came over to help me fill in the big mortar joints and we put up the last piece (until I find enough pretty small rocks to justify getting even more obsessive and particular, of course). Now the west side of the building is a stone collage 8 feet high and 17 feet long, less the one window. Here is a photo of the big window-less section.
I started the stone project in order to add thermal mass and interest to the exterior, and I thought it would be fun. The first, very large stones, went up about a year and a half ago I think, and I managed to get it to the halfway point months and months ago. But the project languished. I just couldn't get back to it and since it was on the west side, the piles of stone and slowly crumbling scratch coat were relatively easy to ignore. We always have plenty of projects around here.
Then one morning early this spring I went for a walk to the East-NE. I stood in the wash below the place and looked up. It was so cool how the cabin blended with hill. I had never considered that before. I started meditating on the hills and noticing the stone under my feet, the variety, the seams of color. Looking at individual rocks and noticing their color, shape, texture, size, and weight gave me ideas. When I pay attention to these kinds of details, I see so much beauty. The beauty is a call to engage.
A lot of the larger stones that I put up were
piled up on the hills behind the cabin, gathered by earlier inhabitants. The rest I collected on walks. The wall literally comes from this ground, and maybe from the dreams and vision of the people who preceded us, the people who found and stacked so many of the rocks that are now on the wall or making up our walkways. I like the feeling that I'm participating in the
history of the place, maybe even imagining something that other people who
lived on this spot also imagined or would appreciate.
The poet Robinson Jeffers built houses and walls and towers of stone at his place in the Carmel Valley above Big Sur. He said, "I think that one may contribute (ever so slightly) to the beauty of things by making one's own life and environment beautiful, as far as one's power reaches." We are surrounded by so much ugliness---ugly objects and places, ugly actions and words. Somehow beauty has become a luxury or a triviality, not something that we tend and enjoy and participate with daily, as part of our place and being. But creating beauty and appreciating beauty are essential to the heart. They are also powerful acts.
I finished this wall while the oil spews into the Gulf, in the company of birds and lizards, to the sound of the wind rustling the leaves of the cottonwoods. As I worked, I thought of the devastation of that place, so many miles away from my home, and I grieved for the life lost and I raged against the greed and stupidity that brought it about. I also felt the rocks in my hands and heard their message of endurance. I learned what they would and would not let me do with them. I meditated on the need to pay attention and respect limits. There is a world out there, a network of matter and being that exists independent of our ideas and desires and theories.
Every day I take an action to curb my participation in our collective oil-based frenzy. And I offer this wall, as part of my efforts to build a more beautiful world for all of us. If you are also feeling sad and angry and powerless, answer the call of the beautiful and make more.
I've been getting up early enough in the morning to watch the sunrise. The brilliant orange line on the horizon slowly fades and sinks down into the hills, only to re-emerge, bit by bit, as a glittering ball. Phillip tries to film it and maybe he's succeeded (I haven't seen his latest efforts), but it's rare to see a memento of any sort that can match the real moment or fill me with the same gratitude for being here and being alive for another day. If you're up at 6AM, go outside, live a little.
This morning I thought about Jung's recollection of his visit to the Taos Pueblo in New Mexico, decades ago. Jung observed a number of Indians on the rooftops at dawn, wrapped in blankets, deep in silent contemplation. He carefully, gingerly, questioned Chief Ochwiay Biano about this practice. The chief told him that they were the sons of Father Sun, living on the rooftop of the world, and daily helped the sun make its passage across the sky. They did this, Chief Ochwiay Biano said, for everyone, for every living thing because we all need the sun. If they stopped their practice, within ten years the sun would cease to rise and the earth would be in perpetual darkness.
We also have a story about how the sun rises. We call it scientific fact, the "truth," and humans play no role in the mechanics. It's easy to privilege our knowledge and the Taos Indians appear naive by comparison. But we forget that others who went before us were equally certain of their "truths" and their facts, and if history is any indication (and the human race survives long enough), one day people will look back on us and marvel at our antiquated "truth" and the obsessions they gave rise to in our culture.
What interests me isn't whether or not the sun needs us to make its way from east to west each day. Part of me would like to believe that my dawn vigils help but I doubt that I can make that leap of faith. Not anymore. I do hope that the Taos Indians are still up there. I distrust our certainty about the mystery that enfold us.
I also wonder (along with Jung) what we have gained and what we have lost in our rush to embrace a purely mechanical cosmos, not as a matter of knowledge, but of meaning. We're so deep into our fantasy of rationality that we forget that facts are part of our story, part of the irrational, imaginative process of finding significance and meaning. In other words, it's possible to have a science of astronomy and collective reverence for the sun as a life-giver that means something to us as spiritual and biological beings. I know, it's hard to grasp. We've created an artificial divide between fact and meaning, part of the bitter heritage of the so-called Enlightenment. Jung writes, "If we set against this (helping the sun) our own self-justifications, the meaning of our lives as it is formulated by our reason, we cannot help but see our poverty."
What can we do now, those of us who cannot serve the sun? Think from the heart, not just the head. We don't live on facts alone.